Friday, June 8, 2012

He was the first to do it. He made elegance affordable and was the first to flaunt a designer label. Pierre Cardin will be 90 years old this year and is having yet another fashion show. His shop is in the center of Paris and he has been a designer for 60 years owning one of the most famous labels. His office is just upstairs from his shop and is filled with magazines and advertisements showing that he knew everyone and dressed anyone including you or at least made high fashion available to you.
He was even commissioned by the Beatles to design their famous look of suits without a collar. His own designs would have made him famous anyway but it is his attitude towards couture that makes him so different. As a young designer he took on the titans of French couture and changed the entire industry. Last fall he presented a new collection, designed a hotel and published a magazine.
Pierre has given millions to promote new artists. When France awarded him its highest honor he designed his own sword. When he had a banquet dinner he bought the restaurant. Not just any restaurant but one with a history Maxims, one of the oldest and most famous restaurants ever. He has owned it now for 30 years.
Born in Italy he was called Pietro and grew a liking to geometric shapes and put it into his fabrics. Many of his designs could have looked like something futuristic like from the old star wars movies. Pierre felt that his career took off when he went to work for Dior who gave him an essence for what is elegant, what is tradition at the same time. Cardin said, “Dior was more classic than myself.”
Within a few years Dior helped Cardin establish his own house. He was barely 30 years old. His first collection that he showed was in 1951 and not futuristic in style. His main contribution to the world was the “Ready to Wear” concept unheard of by designers before him. There was even a movie made recently called Ready to Wear. The thought of putting out there designer stuff in general sizing was unheard of. He provided affordable everyday elegance. The whole concept of having designer cloths was to have it fit perfectly to you.
Because of Pierre Cardin millions of people now have a designer suit or dress in their closet. Now many other designers have followed in his footsteps. The designers of the 50’s catered to the super rich. Their’s was the world of a couture. It was fashion for red carpets and state dinners. Each piece hand made with the fabric stitching and embroidery unique. Designers like Dior, Chanel, Lanvin and Balmain represented the world of the super rich.
The au couture is so labor intensive that designers lost money on every piece. So, in 1959 Pierre Cardin broke rank and gambled his career by selling his collection in a department store. It was the turning point in the entire fashion industry. The old designers were outraged but Cardin made millions. Soon they all followed and now are proud to say that their collections are featured at certain stores.
Pierre at 90 says he was always successful. He has changed the business of fashion. Many of his critics say he went too far when he began to license his name. I hate to have to pay hundreds of dollars for a handbag for my wife that simply has a designer’s name splashed all over it . Other manufacturers went even further and splashed names on T shirts, ties, baby cloths and key chains with logos on it. So bad that we are paying top dollar for stuff to simply being a billboard advertising an already rich designer.
Fashion is an art and a business. A picture is business. If you don’t sell your picture , no one knows you. There is no question that he has a lasting legacy. He is and was part of a movement that changed the world of clothing for all. He made the ordinary person feel special and made the elitists be more down to earth. Pierre is proud to say that he is not classic; that he took too many risks in his life. So, whether you believe that he is high fashion or low brow , Pierre Cardin is the man who made elegance affordable.

No comments:

Post a Comment